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Men in Black III

It’s been ten years since the last installment in the comic book inspired series but the Men in Black are back for Men in Black III. After all that time is it even something we want to see at this point? Only the box office results will really tell us what America thinks. But I can safely say it’s a welcome appetizer to what promises to be a huge meal of a summer.

In MIB3 we find Agents J and K (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones respectively) in a bit of a rut. They’re both feeling a little old and a little tired of each other. They’re forced to put their friendship issues on hold however when an especially nasty alien that K put away years ago (played by Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement) escapes from a maximum security prison on the moon. His name is Boris the Animal, but don’t call him that. He prefers Boris. And Boris is pissed that K not only locked him up 40 years ago but also took his arm. So he goes back in time to kill K and stop him from deploying a worldwide shield that will in the future destroy Boris’s entire race of conquering aliens. When K disappears from the present it’s up to J to go back in time and save both his partner and the Earth once again.

The best part of this movie is going in with low expectations. After reading about how production was stopped mid-shoot to fix the script I kind of wrote the movie off as a probable bomb. But unlike the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, also written as they were being shot, MIB3 comes out relatively unscathed from this process. At 104 minutes it’s a pretty tight film with just enough humor and action and weird alien fun. In fact by the end you’ll be downright glad you spent your money on this movie. At least, I was.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their iconic roles and do just about what we expect. Smith delivers his usual onscreen persona, snarky and slightly arrogant in that Fresh Prince way we’ve come to know and love. Jones has less to do than in other films as he’s away for half the movie when J travels into the past. For those scenes Josh Brolin takes over as the 29 year old Agent K. He does a pretty good job at imitating Jones’s no nonsense and assured quick wittedness. At times Brolin’s performance feels slightly wooden but he eventually manages to bring some more life into the character of K, something that J is searching for at the beginning of the film.

The other cast members include Emma Thompson as Agent O, the new head of MIB. The insanely gorgeous Alice Eve plays young Agent O. Both don’t get a lot to do except pine for Agent K in both time periods. We also have Michael Stuhlbarg (from the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man) as a helpful alien who can see and experience any possible future timeline. But the most fun performance is probably delivered by New Zealand’s own Jemaine Clement.

Clement shines as Boris the Animal. He’s menacing, funny, and just plain weird in a wonderfully memorable way. I’d also like to rave about the design of his creepy alien features. In both of his palms is a small claw-like mouth where a little creepy crawler pops out and shoots deadly bone spikes at people. What a weirdly awesome thing! He also has a bunch of interlaced zigzags all over him indicating more “mouths”. His voice is very cool as well. Not only does it have shades of his Kiwi accent, but it also goes up and down in pitch as he gets more angry and frightening; some pretty sweet sound design on that. Overall a really neat alien and the best Men in Black villain so far, though “Eggar” is still pretty awesome.

My favorite part of the film comes towards the end. It’s an emotional scene that I was surprised find in a movie that is so predominantly made of fluff. I won’t spoil it of course, but I will say that had Pixar tackled this scene I would have started bawling my eyes out.

Men in Black III is a surprisingly fun and engaging sequel to a franchise that no one seemed to be clamoring for. As I said before it’s a nice appetizer to a summer full of huge dishes, namely The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and the quickly approaching Prometheus. Plus, the idea of smartly suited agents who protect us from the weirdness of the galaxy is always a fun concept that has endless possibilities. 3 out of 5 stars.

Men in Black III is playing in both 3D and regular formats at most local theaters including Regal Natomas Marketplace Stadium 16.

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